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By the Arno

by Oscar Wilde, 1881

The oleander on the wall
   Grows crimson in the dawning light,
   Though the grey shadows of the night
 Lie yet on Florence like a pall.

   The dew is bright upon the hill,
   And bright the blossoms overhead,
   But ah! the grasshoppers have fled,
 The little Attic song is still.

   Only the leaves are gently stirred
   By the soft breathing of the gale,
   And in the almond-scented vale
 The lonely nightingale is heard.

   The day will make thee silent soon,
   O nightingale sing on for love!
   While yet upon the shadowy grove
 Splinter the arrows of the moon.

   Before across the silent lawn
   In sea-green mist the morning steals,
   And to love’s frightened eyes reveals
 The long white fingers of the dawn

   Fast climbing up the eastern sky
   To grasp and slay the shuddering night,
   All careless of my heart’s delight,
 Or if the nightingale should die.

Published in Poems

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